Archon 36

Archon 36 was held over the weekend of October 12-14, 2012 at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville, Illinois, one of the St. Louis Metro East suburbs. Because I-70 is torn up all the way from Indianapolis to the Illinois state line, we took I-74 to my folks' place in the Bloomington-Normal area and stayed overnight, then continued to Collinsville via I-55 on Thursday.

Although the con doesn't start until Friday, some con functions are available during set-up on Thursday. As a result we were able to get our badges and put my art on the art show that evening. Then we headed back to the hotel and I did some work on a book review before it was time to turn in for the night.

On Friday we had breakfast, then headed back to the convention center to get our merchandise into the dealers' room and get set up. As a result of a miscommunication, we thought they wouldn't be opening for setup until 10AM, so we arrived to find setup already underway. We weren't able to get any volunteers to assist, but the Gateway Center has one of the best loading dock layouts of any place we go, so we were able to get loaded in with relative ease. We even were able to use one of the convention center's big flatbed carts, which helped speed things.

Once we had everything inside, it was time to start setting up. This year we'd decided to get three tables instead of just two, and it was a good thing. We used one entire table just for t-shirts, and another went to the books, so we had just one table for collectibles and everything else. At least we had plenty of time and setup went smoothly, so we got everything up and even had a little time to relax before the customers started coming in.

Sales were pretty good, particularly for the first day of a con when a lot of people are still just looking around, trying to figure out what they want to buy. However, we did have a little lull time off and on, so I got to talk with the people at some of the neighboring tables. Among them were representatives from Arch Reactor, a St. Louis area hackerspace. We got to talking about what they do, and I wondered if there might be something similar in Indianapolis. They were pretty sure there'd be something, so I did a Google search and found Club Cyberia right down the road from where we live.

After the dealers' room closed for the evening, we headed over to the art show for the artists' reception. This time they had plenty of food, and we took some time to eat before we went around to look at all the art.

After that we went over to the first autographing session for Joe Haldeman, who was toastmaster. We were expecting a huge crowd, so we each took three books from our stock and didn't bring anything more. As it turned out, we were the only people in line, so we could have brought the others as well.

Once we got that taken care of, we headed back to our sleeping room. As late as it was, we just checked our e-mail before turning in for the night.

Saturday morning we got up to have breakfast before heading back to the convention center to get our dealers' tables open for business. We continued to get good sales, but we did have some lull times, which I used to read Pride and Platypus, Vera Nazarian's latest Jane Austen mashup, on the iPad. I also had to take a little time to go to Joe Haldeman's second autograph session.

After the dealers' room closed for the night, we headed back to our sleeping room for the evening. I was having a lot of trouble with the hotel's WiFi connection, so I finally gave up and did some more work on a book review. I didn't quite get it done before it was time to turn in for the night, but at least I made some decent progress.

On Sunday we got up to rain, which was not a good sign. Fortunately, it quit in time for us to carry out our personal belongings without too much trouble, but it still wasn't reassuring to know we had more rain forecast for the afternoon.

Velociraptor cosplayerOnce we got checked out of our sleeping room, we headed back to the convention center to get our dealers' tables open for our last day of sales. We were actually doing pretty well, but a lot of people hold off buying until they've settled up with the hotel and paid for any art they've purchased on the art show. Because sales were so brisk, we decided to hold off on packing until right before the dealers' room closed.

However, this may have turned out to be a mistake, since the wind had really picked up when I went out to retrieve our boxes. I ran a couple of tiedowns across the cart to make sure the boxes didn't fly away, and I still had trouble keeping them from shifting. The whole cart also wanted to move if I weren't holding onto it.

Once the dealers' room closed, I broke down the big gridwall and took it out, since it goes on the bottom of the van's cargo area. Then I carried out the books. We were able to get four helpers, so two helped me carry stuff out while two helped my husband pack the t-shirts. By this time we had a huge wall of black clouds moving in from the west, so we appreciated the extra help.

We had just gotten the books loaded when the rain started. I was able to move the van into the loading dock, so we didn't have as long to carry the rest of our merchandise. However, things weren't loading as efficiently as they had at the storage unit, in spite of all the stuff we sold. So I had to rearrange some stuff a couple of times, which made things even more difficult. Worse, we had some questions about the whereabouts of one box, and wondered if a dealer beside us might have loaded it out by mistake, since some of our boxes were piled very close to their space.

Finally we got everything to fit back in the van and could head back to my folks' place for the night. Although the rain had stopped, we were still having high winds, so the drive was still pretty rough. On Monday we continued our way home, and on Tuesday I unloaded. Apparently my concerns about being missing a box were unfounded, because I inventoried the t-shirts and didn't find any huge gaps of the sort a missing box would cause.

Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated October 21, 2012.